The Gift and Responsibility of Marriage

(Guest post by Molly Hilbert)

If you’ve followed the blog very long, you’ve met the Website Administrator (at least digitally, she’s who makes sure the posts I write actually reach you!) and she has been sharing with us several things she’s learned in her first year of marriage. She’s been brutally honest and given us some good things to think about. If you missed her first post that started her list of 10 things, I hope you’ll click here to read that post. Her second part of that list can be found by clicking here. Today’s post finishes up her list. Whether you are married, or looking forward to marriage, I think you’ll find that Molly’s insights can be an encouragement.

I know you’ll be blessed to hear her share some more personal moments with us . . . so, here is my dear friend, Molly  ~

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This is my final part to the three-part post on what I learned my first year of marriage. Thank you to those of you who have offered your encouragement and insight into my first two posts. I encourage you to go back and read those if you haven’t already; I would love insight from those of you who have been married longer than me and also from those of you who are newly married, as well! Though the Lord has taught me (and still continues to teach me) many more lessons than the 10 that I highlight in these posts, I’ll continue with the final three in this post.

8. Supporting and loving my husband is a full-time job. 

This does not mean that I believe that I must stay home and work full time cleaning and cooking for my husband. I currently work a full-time job outside the home in order to bring in an income so that I can support and serve my husband as he works part-time and attends seminary full-time. However, I do believe that my outside-the-home full-time job should never take priority or precedence over my relationship with my husband or my service and support to him and our home.

In Titus 2:4-5, Paul tells older women to “urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

Loving and supporting my husband is a full-time job, yes, but it is also my husband’s duty to love and give himself up for me as Christ has given Himself up for us, the Church (Ephesians 5:25). Just because, as a woman, it is my service to “be busy at home” and to “be subject to my husband,” this does not mean that my husband is off the hook and can selfishly boss me around or not do his part to help me in my tasks at home. Marriage is a partnership, a giving of oneself to the other, in mutual service and love.

However, to love my husband is to make supporting him and serving him a priority. If I find that my career or even my ministry outside the home is more important to me or takes a higher priority in my life than my service to my husband, I am not serving and loving him in the way that the Lord has called me to as his wife. Yes, cooking, cleaning, and the other mundane tasks of the home are certainly part of this, but even more than that is the importance of speaking life-giving encouragement into his life, being his faithful partner during difficult times, praying for him, and with him, about needs of his heart that I often know deeper than anyone else, and exhorting him with words of truth and encouragement in the path that God has called him on.

9. Encouraging him in God’s call is crucial in his life. No one is more influential in your life than your spouse. As his wife, I have the opportunity to encourage my husband more than anyone else in his life; also, unfortunately as his wife I have the power to crush him in destructive ways that I only know how. Whether your spouse is in full-time ministry or working a full-time secular career, you have the specific opportunity and power either to crush him/her or to empower him/her. As Matt’s wife, I can either discourage him from his calling to become a pastor or I can do all that I can to support and serve him on this sometimes difficult journey.

Confession: When Matt and I first moved away from our families so that he could begin a four-year seminary program to become a pastor, I did not always have the best attitude. I secretly blamed him for taking me away from those I loved. I secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) resented him for moving me here – away from my family and to a place where I did not see any potential for growth for myself. I was selfish and self-centered and I became severely depressed (though I do not by any means completely blame this self-pity for my depression, it certainly did not help me to become healed from it).

During some of my deepest times of depression, Matt wondered whether it would be best for him to drop out of seminary so that we could move back to my family. He and I both knew in our hearts that this was not God’s will, but my attitude was not one of encouragement and empowerment to my husband. I was debilitating him, often distracting him from his studies, from his job, from ministry, and from his life-giving relationships. My words and attitude were not helpful to build him up (Ephesians 4:29). Thankfully, the Lord brought me out of this deep time of depression and has since shown me the destruction that He protected us from and His faithfulness to keep Matt and I both on His path. Stepping away from His call is destructive, but to take someone else off that path with you is even more so. And, as his wife, I am the person who has the greatest influence in his life – whether for good or for bad.

I have learned that one of the greatest gifts I can give my husband is my encouragement to him in his battles and in God’s calling on his life. It is not only important; it is crucial. As his wife, I am able either to crush or empower him more than anyone else in his life, save the Father Himself.

10. Marriage is a wonderfully sanctifying thing. Marriage is a wonderful, beautiful, mysterious gift (Ephesians 5:31-32). However, it is also difficult and challenging, and this is where the sanctification comes.

[box]“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
-1 Thessalonians 5:23[/box]

Sanctification is the continual process that we are in as believers wherein the Lord makes us holy. It is continual because we will never quite reach holiness this side of eternity (though, in Christ, the Lord sees us as righteous [Romans 4:21-25]). It is a process because we can sometimes feel as though we have “arrived” when, in reality, we will continue to learn and grow and become holy throughout our lifetimes. I have been convinced that marriage is “sanctification on steroids” because it forces you to look at parts of yourself that you have never had to open up to before. Not only does marriage force you to look at these parts of yourself, but it invites another person into those places with you. This can be a scary and vulnerable and humiliating thing and, yet, it is in these moments that our Father can sanctify us and bring us closer to Himself and to our spouse.

Being married to Matt has been, for me, like looking into a mirror of my heart. When I say something hurtful out of selfishness, all that I have to do is look into my husband’s face and see the hurt reflected there and the sin that lies in my heart. Since being married, I have seen parts of myself that I never knew were there – or knew, but never wanted to face. I have had to see and face my selfishness, my pride, the ways in which I had deceived myself into believing I was right, my stubbornness, and my desire to control. The Lord has shown me more of myself and my heart since being married – places that I never even knew were there.

Marriage is a wonderful, beautiful, sanctifying relationship that is sometimes difficult but is always good.

How has the Lord been sanctifying you through your marriage relationship? I would love to hear from you on how you love and encourage your spouse and how the Lord has been showing you parts of yourself through your marriage relationship.